Tag: Villefranche sur Mer

Countdown to my French departure ….

So I’m headed to France in a little over one week, and am alternately super-psyched, nervous, thrilled, stressed to the max, giddy with excitement, and worried. While part of me cannot WAIT to board that Iberia flight headed for Europe, my evil twin fears that I’ll spend all those trans-Atlantic hours obsessing about … STUFF.

Will my limited French-speaking skills make me feel (literally) like the “village idiot” when I get to Samois-sur-Seine, the picturesque place south of Paris where I’ll be living? Will I find enough freelance writing and consulting work to keep me challenged—but not so much that I end up overstretched and fall back into my workaholic ways? Will I finally meet a decent man who is what he claims to be—or will the language gap (and his sure-to-be-charming French ways and accent) make it that much tougher to figure it out?

When you decide to pull up stakes and move by yourself to the other side of the world, the tasks you need to handle before leaving home are LEGION….

Continue 33 Comments December 20, 2011

Planning an international getaway is (more than) half the fun

For some international travelers, NOTHING compares to the moment of arrival, when they touch down in a new place and are ready to check out the scene. Others love arriving back HOME, posting their photos on Facebook and Flickr, sharing their travel memories with family and friends. But for me, a pseudo-obsessive Type A, what I love most about travel is the PLANNING that goes into crafting and shaping a trip.

Take my trip to Europe early next week. A wonderfully thoughtful friend in the south of France owns several beautifully furnished Riviera Experience (www.rivieraexperience.com) vacation rental apartments and had a vacancy in one that overlooks the breathtaking Bay of Villefranche. During an e-mail exchange, she invited me to come for a visit. I thought her offer was far too generous and started to decline, but finally graciously accepted, as I’d LOVE to see her and return to one of the most gorgeous places on earth. And for me, a planner to my heart, that’s where the fun begins!

Continue 14 Comments March 13, 2011

Turning a trip abroad into a ‘permanent vacation’

We’ve all read books and watched films about folks (often single women, it seems) who travel to some exotic locale in search of self-discovery, fall in love with this new place, and decide to trade in their not-quite-right lives at home for a new one overseas. You UrbanTravelGirls know the 2003 film “Under the Tuscan Sun” motivated me to move to storybook-perfect Florence, Italy. The Frances Mayes book that inspired the film, Under the Tuscan Sun, has been translated into dozens of languages and prompted countless reader pilgrimages to Mayes’ adopted Tuscan hometown of Cortona.

Author Peter Mayle jump-started the modern expat-exchanges-hectic-urban-life-for-adventure-abroad trend with A Year in Provence, a book that when became an international best-seller when first published in 1989. In it, Mayle chronicled his life as a British expatriate in Ménerbes, a town in this gorgeous part of southern France. This former London ad executive and his wife traveled to Provence on vacation but eventually took the plunge, relocating completely from the UK to France. And once his books caught fire and made him rich—no doubt inspiring legions of folks with visions of living abroad—Mayle became the patron saint of reinventing oneself in a foreign land.

But when does an UrbanTravelGirl decide that a mere vacation doesn’t do it, that she’d rather pull up stakes and actually MOVE to another country and build a life for herself there instead of here (wherever that happens to be)? ….

Continue 14 Comments December 21, 2010

Want to fit in as a solo female traveler? Meet the locals

Those of you who’ve visited UrbanTravelGirl know what a passionate ambassador I am for solo travel. So is Beth Whitman, whose Wanderlust and Lipstick Web site is a treasure trove of info for those chicas who like hitting the road, whether with girlfriends, kids and families, or on their own.

I often am asked by friends—and friends of friends—for tips on visiting foreign countries when you’re female and rolling solo. In fact, I’d planned to write a post with some suggestions… and one of those suggestions is to be open and available to meeting local residents wherever you go. But Beth beat me to the punch, and has a great recent Web site post on “Meeting the Locals: 5 Tips for Solo Travelers.” Be sure to check out her five tips on doing this with purpose—and it’s obviously worked for her, as she’s become friends with folks she’s met on her travels. I’ve done the same, having met and shared my 40th birthday dinner with a charming Irish couple on the French Riviera. I’ve become pals with Parisians I’ve interviewed for travel stories and have developed and maintained real friendships with B&B owners I first met several years ago in Rome….

Continue 13 Comments July 5, 2009

The joys of traveling solo—Part Une

For some folks, as the old song by Three Dog Night goes, “one is the loneliest number.” They can’t stomach the idea of dining alone and think that going to a movie theater or party without a “plus-one” (famously played out on an episode of “Sex and the City”) will brand them as permanent losers.

How sad. They’ll never understand the visceral joy many of us find in traveling solo.

I again experienced this fabulous freedom during my recent return trip to the super-charming village of Villefranche-sur-Mer on the Côte D’Azur—better known to many Americans as the “French Riviera.” Talk about a fabulous place for a chica to get away by herself. I’ll chat more later about this fab week-long adventure… but in the meantime, continue reading to view a couple photos that will make you drool. Is this place paradise OR WHAT?

Continue 9 Comments May 8, 2009

"Obama: Savior of the world… and America?"

“Obama: Savior of the world… and America?” So read the translation from a recent front-page story on a French publication during my time in Paris, the second half of my solo 40th birthday adventure.

This headline may be taking the “hope” message to an extreme, but what a wonderful time to be an American abroad again.

And what a great time to be an AFRICAN-AMERICAN out in the world.

Since the election of Barack Obama, who’ll be the United States’ first president of acknowledged African descent, folks all over the globe certainly see America in a brand-new light. FINALLY, by electing this black man, we lived up to the platitudes and ideals the nation had been claiming for more than 200 years.

Continue 11 Comments January 14, 2009

The kindness of (Italian) strangers

My French speaking skills pretty much suck, so rather than feeling like the village idiot, I decided to take the 40-minute train from charming Villefranche to Ventimiglia, the first town over the border in Italy. While I won’t be winning any prizes for my knowledge of Italian, I sound like a genius in italiano compared to the moron I sound like in français (multiple classes notwithstanding). So off I went to the train station, armed with my Berlitz Italian Phrase Book & Dictionary just in case all my “questi” and “quelli” got stuck in translation.

Ahhh… what a delight to stroll into a city where things felt familiar! Granted, I’d never been to Ventimiglia, but how thrilling to see signs for a salumeria and a gelateria – and actually be able to intelligently ask for my purchase! And, of course, my Italian brothers never let me down… they’re always good for an admiring glance or two and a couple whistles for a single “signorina!” (I made sure to change into my “cute shoes” before I boarded the train for Italy – I know those so-called little things make a big difference in bella Italia.)

Continue 21 Comments January 3, 2009

Serendipity on a French afternoon

So I had planned to take a 9:36 am train to the gritty, rough-and-tumble Provencal town of Marseille …but being myself, I could hardly drag myself out of the bed this morning. So after rolling back over, finally waking at 11:30 and getting myself dressed, I traipsed down the lovely Rue de May steps (I’m renting an apartment in a pedestrian-only part of Villefranche-sur-Mer) to find a restaurant or brasserie still open before the mid-afternoon closing.

I settled on a place I’d dined before – the almost-waterfront Le Cosmo Restaurant – and decided to nosh outside since the afternoon sun was so warm. (Besides, the waiter was gorgeous in that gaunt Gallic way, tall and slender!) I found a great table with a view of the Mediterranean harbor, and locked eyes with a good-looking, dressed-in-black Frenchman at the next table.

Continue 5 Comments January 3, 2009


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